April 15, 2015

An alumnus of Princeton University has donated $10 million for the 23,000-square-foot Music Building that will be part of the arts complex currently under construction near University Place and Alexander Street. The donor and his wife have remained anonymous for now, but the building will eventually be named by them.

“Attending Princeton was a formative experience,” said the donor in a statement issued Monday by the University. “It was there that I developed a deep and lasting interest in the arts. When my wife and I visited campus and witnessed the engagement, curiosity, and passion of so many students in so many areas of arts study, the decision to be a part of the team in promoting the arts at Princeton was an easy one. We believe that all students should have access to the arts and to the music program as part of the unique educational experience of Princeton.”

The three-story building, designed by architect Steven Holl, will house the University’s Department of Music and the Lewis Center for the Arts, which is currently operating out of a building at 185 Nassau Street. With a performance and rehearsal space, acoustically advanced practice rooms, teaching studios, and a digital recording studio, there will be room for increased and enhanced programming.

Dance activities will be located at the Wallace Dance Building and Theater, which was donated by Monte and Neil Wallace, members of the classes of 1953 and 1955, respectively. Administrative and faculty offices and an art gallery will be housed in a tower next to the music building, which will provide supplementary space at the 47,000-square-foot Woolworth Center of Musical Studies near the center of the campus.

The $320 million arts complex was launched in 2006 when then President Shirley M. Tilghman announced plans to substantially increase arts activities on campus, including establishment of an arts neighborhood. Late alumnus Peter B. Lewis, a 1955 graduate and trustee, contributed $101 million to help launch the initiative.

As part of the project, the Princeton Dinky train station has been relocated 460 feet south of its former location. The new station opened last November. A restaurant and cafe planned for the historic, former station buildings was to be operated by the Terra Momo Group, but the company withdrew from the project last January. A new operator has yet to be selected.

“This splendid gift will benefit our student musicians and the audiences who come to hear them,” University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said of the recent donation. “The additional space is an essential element in enabling our arts intiatitve — launched less than a decade ago — to flourish. We are excited about seeing the arts at Princeton reach their full potential, and we are grateful to our generous alumni and friends for helping to make it possible.”

Students at the American Boychoir School will finish the academic year earlier than usual due to the school’s precarious financial situation, according to a letter that went out to supporters on Monday. The school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last Friday.

A letter from Board of Trustees chairman Rob D’Avanzo announcing the decision stated that $350,000 was needed in order for the school to complete the academic year. Since then, gifts and pledges totaling $82,400 С 24 percent of the goal С have been received. The second letter from Mr. D’Avanzo urged those who have made pledges to “Й be sure that your funds follow quickly: get that check in the mail or simply go to our secure website to make your donation now.”

For those who have supported previous emergency fundraising efforts, “…this time is different,” he wrote. “We have no safety net. Without an immediate infusion of cash, we will be forced to close our doors quickly.” The letter goes on to say that “funding permitting,” the school will end its academic year the weekend of May 16-17. The school usually holds a much-anticipated graduation the second weekend in June.

Staff members of the organization could not be reached for comment.

The renowned Boychoir School was founded in 1937 in Columbus, Ohio and has been located in Princeton since 1950. Boys in grades four to eight are selected from across the country to train for the concert boys’ choir, considered among the nation’s finest. The choir has performed with such ensembles as The New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Boston Symphony, under the batons of such conductors as James Levine, Charles Dutoit, and Alan Gilbert.

A 2014 film titled Boychoir starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, and Debra Winger, based on the school, failed to gain national distribution after debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. The film featured performances by the choristers and appearances by staff members.

The choir is currently on tour in Texas. A quote from Mr. D’Avanzo’s letter demonstrates the gravity of the financial situation: “On Saturday, flight delays into Dallas caused an unexpected hotel stay, with our weary travelers arriving in Abilene after midnight,” he wrote. “Our hosts made arrangements and paid for the hotel. Thanks to their generous spirit, we avoided what could have been a damaging hit to our finances, and our boys performed for this appreciative audience at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.”

The Boychoir sold Albemarle, its longtime Princeton location, the former estate of pharmaceutical magnate Gerard Lambert, for $6 million in January of 2013. The school moved to the Princeton Center for Arts and Education, on the campus of the former St. Joseph’s Seminary on Mapleton Road in Plainsboro, where it became lead tenant on the multi-school campus it originally shared with the Wilberforce School and the French American School of Princeton. Wilberforce moved to West Windsor in September, 2014.

Members of the teachers’s union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA), and parent supporters turned out to celebrate Princeton’s “lighthouse district” schools last week just prior to the April 9 session between union negotiators and members of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE).

The event, described as a Community Unity Rally, brought a festive feeling to the lawn in front of the district administration building on Valley Road with more than 200 people attending.

They heard a statement from Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) read by Kari Osmond and remarks by guest speaker Shirley Satterfield; teacher Bryan McKenna played guitar and sang, and members of the Princeton University Juggling Club performed.

PREA solicited and received many donations from area businesses including Bon Appetit, Hoagie Haven, Terra Momo Learning Kitchen, Bai, Olives, House of Cupcakes, Tico’s Juice Bar, and Jazams, among others. Picture books were collected for the Princeton Nursery School and non-perishable food items for the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County.

PREA Chief Negotiator John Baxter and PREA President Joanne Ryan addressed the crowd before sitting down with their BOE counterparts. The two sides had failed to reach agreement when they met face-to-face on Thursday, March 26.

But some parents see the fact that the most recent negotiating sessions have been conducted without the help of state-appointed mediator Kathy Vogt, Esq. as a positive sign. Parent and Save our Schools member Jennifer Lea Cohan described the face-to-face nature of the meetings as “encouraging.”

This is the second time the two sides have met without Ms. Vogt since March 26, which BOE negotiator Patrick Sullivan described as “a constructive negotiation session” that had resulted in “material progress on the key issues of salary and benefits.” After the March 26 talks, Mr. Sullivan said “I think it is fair to say that both sides are happy with the progress we made last night.”

PREA negotiator Mr. Baxter seemed to agree. “The face-to-face negotiation session on March 26 was a more efficient, effective way of communicating and working compared to the mediation format,” he said. “Questions were asked and answers provided, or areas needing work to provide answers were identified.”

While neither side would reveal details of their recent talks, it seems clear that progress is being made. They are due to meet again today, April 15.

So far, neither side has requested to move to the fact-finding stage, which would follow mediation if no progress was being made.

Since July 1, teachers in Princeton’s public schools have been working under the terms of their previous 2011-2014 contract.

“Patrick [Sullivan] and I both feel that the parties made meaningful progress towards compromise on March 26 and again on April 9 with respect to the key open items of salaries and health benefits,” commented Board President Andrea Spalla yesterday. “The Board team is eager for our April 15 meeting so we can continue to work towards a resolution.”


Though Saturday was “training day” for the British 43rd Regiment of Foot and the 4th Battalion Royal Artillery, the Red Coats appear to be taking a break adjacent to the Thomas Clarke House, where General Mercer died after being wounded during the actual battle. There were demonstrations with muskets, cannon, tactical formations and drills, marching, and loading and firing volleys. Some period local color was provided by campfires and the other domestic activities of camp followers and colonials, such as cooking, baking, lap-looming, knitting, spinning, laundry, candle-making, and herbal-medicine-making. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

April 14, 2015

Princeton’s engineering department has applied for a grant that could expand Princeton University’s bicycle rental program. The grant was submitted to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission under a program that funds projects geared toward reducing emissions.

The funding would enable local residents and visitors to rent more bicycles for transportation around town. Up to five rental sites in town and two more on the campus could be created as part of the program, said Deanna Stockton, Princeton’s assistant municipal engineer.

The University launched its bike rental program last November, when the new Dinky train station opened. It was designed as a pilot program, with a one-year contract.

Kristin Appelget, with the University’s Department of Community Affairs, told Princeton Council members Monday night that the program’s success is not being measured by the recent winter, “one of our coldest we will ever remember.”

The town’s contribution to start the program would be $196,000, which the grant would reimburse. It would cost between $50,000 and $75,000 annually to run the program, which would be assessed after a year to see if it is working.

The current racks at the Dinky station house 10 Zagster rental bikes. There is space for up to 90 additional bikes. The University has agreed to provide funding and operating expenses for the program on sites owned by the school. Zagster would furnish the bikes, maintenance, and rider support.

The town should be notified as to whether the grant will be administered by August. The program would then be launched in September 2016.

Steven Cruz, 20, of Princeton was charged today with one count of reckless driving and one count of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk after the April 8 accident on Washington Road. Ms. Nyssa Emerson, 25, of Florida, a graduate student at Princeton University remains hospitalized in stable but guarded condition.

April 10, 2015

From 8 p.m. tonight (Friday) until 6 a.m. tomorrow, the intersection of Mount Lucas and Cherry Hill roads will be closed to through traffic to allow for replacement of an existing storm drain pipe.

The municipality has contracted with Top Line Construction Corporation to do the work. During the construction, detours will be in effect for through traffic with northbound detoured onto Route 206 at Terhune Road, and southbound onto Terhune Road via Jefferson Road.

For questions, contact Rich Decker at rdecker@princetonnj.gov or call him at (609) 751-6826.

After serving as New Jersey State Museum executive director for four years, Anthony Gardner will take on the role of vice president of community engagement at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

“Anthony has promoted the very best of New Jersey through his passion for engaging audiences of all ages in the stories of our shared history,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno in making the announcement. “We are grateful for his service and proud that he has been recognized for his leadership and his dedication to ensuring that the lessons of September 11 are never forgotten. I join his family, friends, and colleagues in congratulating him on this well-deserved opportunity.”

Under Mr. Gardner’s direction, museum attendance increased by more than 63 percent. In addition to his many other accomplishments, he managed the renovation and reopening of the museum’s Archaeology Collections Galleries, developed strategic STEM education partnerships and led the museum in the development of “Remember 9/11: Reflections and Memories from New Jersey.”

Mr. Gardner’s brother, Harvey Joseph Gardner, III, was a victim of the September 11 attacks.

“Leading the State Museum and contributing to its renewal over these last four years has been an absolute gift and I will always be grateful to Lt. Governor Guadagno and the museum’s Board of Trustees for giving me this opportunity to advance this important institution,” said Mr. Gardner. “I leave here proud of all that we have been able to accomplish together to advance a strategic vision that has made the museum more visible, visitor-centered, engaging, and impactful.”

Fine Art Curator Margaret O’Reilly, who has been with the museum for more than 20 years, will serve as acting director while a nationwide search is conducted for a new executive director.

April 9, 2015

On Wednesday, the state of New Jersey issued three permits to the Williams Transco company allowing them to begin construction work on the natural gas pipeline project that will run through the environmentally sensitive Princeton ridge and parts of Montgomery.

The $650 million project would add a 42-inch pipeline to an existing line. Transco needed permits for freshwater wetland and flood hazard areas from the Department of Environmental Protection before beginning construction. The project is part of the 6.36-mile Skillman Loop that will transport gas to produce enough energy to heat about two million homes, according to the company.

Construction is scheduled to begin May 1. Gas in the existing pipeline will be shut off for safety reasons. Clearing of trees for the pipeline expansion began last month.

In February, a public hearing where numerous concerns were raised by local residents resulted in several changes made to Transco’s application. The company plans now to tunnel beneath stream and wetland areas instead of digging open trenches.

The Princeton Ridge Coalition, a residents’ group, said last week that the permit approval process was being rushed to conform with Transco’s schedule. The NJ Sierra Club has also commented that the approval was being rushed. The Sierra Club is calling for a full Environmental Impact Statement about the project, saying it will destroy wetland, forests, and cause flooding.

A 25-year-old pedestrian crossing the marked crosswalk on Washington Road just south of Ivy Lane was hit by a car at approximately 9:32 p.m., April 8. Ms. Nyssa Emerson of Florida, a Princeton University graduate student, suffered extensive injuries and was transported by the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, NJ. Police report that they have been advised by medical staff that Ms. Emerson suffered significant injuries as a result of the crash and is in guarded but stable condition. The car, which was traveling southbound on Washington Road, was driven by Steven G. Cruz 20 years old of Princeton. There were no other occupants in the vehicle. Mr. Cruz’s Toyota Prius suffered front end and windshield damage and was towed from the scene. An investigation is being conducted and charges are pending against Mr. Cruz.

FILMS FROM AFAR: For the fifth year, the Trenton International Film Festival brings features from a range of countries to the Mill Hill Playhouse. Opening the festival Thursday, April 9 and shown here is “Felix and Meira,” set in Montreal’s Orthodox Jewish community.

FILMS FROM AFAR: For the fifth year, the Trenton International Film Festival brings features from a range of countries to the Mill Hill Playhouse. Opening the festival Thursday, April 9 and shown here is “Felix and Meira,” set in Montreal’s Orthodox Jewish community.

A key component of Trenton’s efforts to revitalize itself is the promotion of cultural activities. Prominent among them are three annual film festivals, which have been drawing a growing group of film buffs to the capital city from the local area and beyond.

From Thursday, April 9 through Saturday, April 11, the five-year-old Trenton International Film Festival will return to Mill Hill Playhouse with a roster of seven films. None of these features — from South Korea, Latin America, Estonia, Canada, Australia, and Iran — have been seen in this country. This is part of the festival’s appeal.

“We’re only showing films not distributed in the United States,” says Susan Fou, a board member of the Trenton Film Society. “They have played only in festivals, but not in theaters. So we get people who want to see things they might not otherwise get to see. Last year, two of them, the Polish film Ida and the Swedish film We are the Best, ended up in art houses and Ida won an Oscar for best foreign language film.”

As members of the Film Society did last year, they hired Jed Ratfogel, a full-time film programmer at the Anthology Film Archive in New York, to curate the current series. “His job is going to festivals and looking at a variety of films,” said Ms. Fou. “So he’s out there seeing everything. He has worked hard on programming this as a festival, knowing that we’re looking for a wide range of drama, comedy, documentary, and more.”

This year’s festival has a theme of cross cultural encounters. “One of the films, Felix and Meira, is set in Montreal’s Orthodox Jewish community and deals with that community and non-Jews living closely together,” said Ms. Fou. “In Charlie’s Country, from Australia, the protagonist struggles to find his place within that country’s white and indigenous cultures.”

Other films in the series include two from Latin America that are comedic in tone. Gueros, from Mexico, follows a troublemaking teenager and his slacker older brother searching for their father’s favorite singer in the midst of a student strike. Two Shots Fired, made by Martin Rejtman, one of the founders of Argentine cinema, explores what happens when a boy inexplicably shoots himself twice but emerges unscathed.

There are two documentaries. “These are very personal,” Ms. Fou said. “They deal with that theme of cross cultural encounters, but within an individual. One of the filmmakers was born in Iran and immigrated to Belgium as a child. She’s now learning how to read and write Persian as an adult, and that’s the focus of the film. The other is by a filmmaker born in South Korea. The film is about North Korea. She weaves together interview footage with her father, who lived through the separation, and footage she shot herself while visiting North Korea as well as popular media footage, and she has commentary as well. So it’s about a culture that is her own, but vastly different from what she’s familiar with.”

The festival is divided into seven different programs. Six are feature length films, and the seventh has a short film and a longer feature. A festival pass is $25, while individual programs cost $8. Mill Hill Playhouse is located at 205 East Front Street in Trenton. For more information, visit www.trentonfilmsociety.com.

“The Current Challenges of Immigration and Reform” will be the topic of a panel discussion at the April 19 meeting of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization at 7 p.m. at the Suzanne Patterson Center, 45 Stockton Street, behind Monument Hall in Princeton. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel will discuss the current status of the Obama administration’s immigration policy on undocumented immigrants, the issues facing undocumented immigrants in New Jersey, and the efforts of Princeton to address immigration issues and to welcome immigrants to our community.

Panelists are: Alice Lugo, Immigration Counsel for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey; Tatiana Durbak, Esq., who specializes in Immigration Law; Maria R. Juega, executive director of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund, located in Trenton; Princeton Councilwoman Heather Howard; and John Heilner, chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, Princeton Human Rights Commission.

A question-and-answer period will follow short presentations by each panelist. For more information on the PCDO please go to www.princetondems.org.

The Sourland Conservancy will sponsor “Sourlands, a Threatened Treasure,” the semi-annual bus tour of the Eastern Sourland Mountain Region, on Saturday, May 2, from 1-4 p.m.

The tour will investigate the history of this unspoiled landscape of forested ridges and farmland, covering its history as a refuge for heroes, patriots, artists, and even ghosts. The home of Charles Lindbergh will be included, inside and out. Participants will learn about the Sourland environment and heritage, and how to protect it for future generations.

For information or to sign up, visit www.sourland.org or call Marcia Maguire at (609) 466-0701 by April 16.


Two people have filed to run as Republicans in the election for Princeton Council next November. Kelly DiTosto and Lynn Irving officially entered their names to challenge Democrats Heather Howard and Lance Liverman, current Council members who will be up for re-election. Democrats currently hold all of the Council seats.

Both women replied to a series of questions this week. In an email, Ms. DiTosto described herself as a longtime Princeton resident whose three children have attended Princeton public schools. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Villanova University and currently works in the accounting field.

“I have a sincere interest in looking out for the best interests of all of Princeton’s residents and taxpayers,” she wrote, “and a belief that office holders should serve the best interests of all members of our community regardless of party affiliation.”

Ms. Irving, a native of Guangzhou, China, was a pre-school teacher and administrator before becoming a licensed real estate agent. Two of her three children are Princeton High School graduates, and one is a PHS freshman. She has been a Princeton resident for more than 25 years.

Like others who have run as Republicans, Ms. DiTosto feels the political system in Princeton leans too heavily to one side. “Our town deserves true diversity,” she wrote. “We have had one political party making all of our decisions for far too long. I believe my accounting and financial background will enable me to play an instrumental role in bringing about a more fiscally responsible Council.”

Ms. Irving said she experienced a one-party system while growing up in China. “It was not to my liking,” she said. “So I’m not that much party-affiliated. We all want the same things.”

Issues on Ms. DiTosto’s list of priorities include the pay increase Council recently voted for its members. “This action was not only a retreat from earlier pledges, but an unprecedented conflict of interest as well,” she wrote. “This is an insult to all taxpayers regardless of party affiliation and a prime example of the consequences of one-party control of Council.”

Ms. Irving feels that property taxes are an important issue. “Being in the real estate industry, I see that the rise of taxes is good in one way, not good in another,” she said. “So many residents, when their kids are grown, leave town because of the high taxes. It’s hard for us to see our friends moving away simply because of that.”

Ms. DiTosto feels the financial relationship between the town and Princeton University needs re-examination. “Many ordinary citizens believe the University is not contributing its ‘fair share,’” she wrote. “Voters need to be assured that the University’s ‘payment in lieu of taxes’ is equitable.”

She added, “The current Council appears to be concerned about rising property taxes only as a talking point at election time. Fiscal responsibility means living within a carefully crafted budget much like Princeton residents must do in their own households.”

Referring to a controversial proposal to purchase a property in the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood for possible expansion of a park, Ms. DiTosto wrote, “Spending $600,000 for a mini-park so soon after spending millions at Community Park only a few blocks away seems unwarranted in these times.”

The six members of Council serve three-year terms. The terms of Mr. Liverman and Ms. Howard are the only ones up for re-election. Ms. Howard served on Borough Council and Mr. Liverman on Township Committee prior to consolidation in 2013. Both were re-elected to the new governing body.

Mark Salzman, the author of Iron & Silk, will read from his work at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart on Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m. A book signing will follow the reading, which is free and open to the public.

Mr. Salzman has written on a variety of subjects, from a novel about a Carmelite nun’s ecstatic visions and crisis of faith (Lying Awake) to a memoir about growing up a misfit in a Connecticut suburb (Lost in Place). As a boy, he dreamed about becoming a Kung Fu master, but his academic achievements, along with his
proficiency on the cello, facilitated his acceptance to Yale at 16. He soon changed his major to Chinese Language and Philosophy, which took him to mainland China where he taught English for two years and studied martial arts.

“We are very excited to welcome Mark Salzman to campus,” said Dr. Patty L. Fagin, Head of School at Stuart.” She continued, “His theme of how people struggle to reach an ideal or a goal is one that I feel will resonate with students, parents, and community members.”

Mr. Salzman’s first memoir, Iron and Silk, inspired by his years in China, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction and received the Christopher Award. His book True Notebooks is a look at his experiences as a writing teacher at Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall, a lockup for violent teenage offenders. He is also the author of the memoir Lost in Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia, and the novels The Laughing Sutra, The Soloist, and Lying Awake. Common to each of his works is a theme of how people struggle to reach an ideal but often fall short, and the quiet change that takes place in facing the discouragement and the possibility of never achieving their goal. His newest work is the non-fiction title The Man in the Empty Boat

Mr. Salzman never gave up music, and his cello playing appears on the soundtrack to several films, including the Academy Award-winning documentary Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien. He has also played with Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax at Lincoln Center. His unusual combination of talents – as both a well-known author and a concert-proficient cellist – led to a feature profile about him in The New Yorker magazine. He was also recently presented with the Algonquin West Hollywood Literary Award.

As part of the Visiting Author Program, students, faculty, and staff have been reading and studying Mr. Salzman’s work and Stuart’s Senior Scholars have worked with Lower and Middle School girls in preparation for his visit. In addition to the public reading on April 9, Mr. Salzman will spend the day on campus on Friday, April 10. Besides meeting with students of all ages at Stuart to share his expertise on the craft of writing, he will spend time with K-4 Lower School girls, share lunch with the Stuart Senior Scholars, and give a private reading to Middle and Upper School students.

April 8, 2015

Hamilton Jewelers

At a special event Tuesday, April 7 to promote an upcoming fundraiser for Corner House taking place April 17 at Pretty Brook Country Club, Hamilton Jewelers gave a sneak preview of the $1 million suite of jewelry that guests at the gala will be allowed to try on. From left: Geniva Martin, Corner House representative; Donna Bouchard,  Vice President, Hamilton Jewelers; Leslie Ward, Corner House representative; and Gary J. De Blasio, Executive Director, Corner House. (Photo by Robin Broomer)

matt rasmussen

Poet Matt Rasmussen, the author of “Black Aperture,” which won the 2013 Walt Whitman Award, the 2014 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, and was a National Book Award Finalist, has been selected as the latest recipient of the Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize awarded by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University. The Holmes National Poetry Prize was established in memory of Princeton 1951 alumnus Theodore H. Holmes and is presented each year to a poet of special merit as selected by the faculty of the Creative Writing Program.

Art Rev 2

This carefully posed male painted bunting as portrayed by the photographer Kate Breakey is one of some 30 large-scale images of birds, flowers, and insects on view at the James A. Michener Art Museum’s exhibition, “Kate Breakey: Small Deaths” which will run through July 12. Ms. Breakey has received international recognition for her large-scale, manipulated photographs, which she meticulously colors by hand adding many layers of oil paints and pencils. The artist will discuss her work on Tuesday, April 14, from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion. Admission is $10 member/$20 non-member/$5 student with valid ID, includes museum admission. Advance registration required. The museum at 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, Pennsylania is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (215) 340-9800, or visit: MichenerArtMuseum.org. (Courtesy of the Wittliff Collections, Texas State University)

Town Topics has moved from its most recent home on Witherspoon Street to the historic Union Line Building in Kingston.

“We outgrew our office on Witherspoon Street,” said publisher Lynn Adams Smith. “The move doubles our square footage, giving us ample storage for magazines and newspapers, and triples our number of parking spaces; it not only meets our current needs, it gives us room to expand.”

The move also takes Princeton’s Community Newspaper back into an historic building of similar vintage to the one it left eight years ago when it relocated from 4 Mercer Street. Town Topics had occupied the red-brick building that had previously been Priest’s Pharmacy, for most of the years since its founding in 1946 until 2007. Even today the site is referred to as “the old Town Topics building.”

That building and the paper’s new location stand almost as bookends to Princeton, one at the southern end of Nassau Street close to the intersection with Route 206 and the other on Route 27 just beyond the northern end of town at the crossroads in Kingston.

Founded by Princeton University graduates Donald Stuart and his brother-in-law Dan Coyle together with Don’s wife Emily and Dan’s wife Mary, Town Topics was run as a family business until it was sold to current publisher Lynn Adams Smith in 2001.

Ms. Smith took over the running of the paper with the help of a small group of newspaper employees and Princeton architect J. Robert Hillier, as investors. “I will always be appreciative that Jeb Stuart trusted me to carry on the Town Topics tradition and grateful to Bob for his support,” said Ms. Smith.

Having assured its former owners that Town Topics would retain its independence and not become part of a chain, Ms. Smith has maintained the  newspaper’s look while expanding into new print media. Town Topics is now part of the Witherspoon Media Group, which also publishes Princeton Magazine and Urban Agenda: New York City.

Light-filled Space

The newspaper’s new headquarters dates to 1878 when the Union Line Hotel was erected to serve stage coach traffic between Philadelphia and New York City. The hotel replaced an earlier hostelry, the Withington Inn, which had been destroyed by fire. More recently the building was home to Tuscan Hills.

According to historian Jeanette K. Muser, author of the 1998 pictorial history, Rocky Hill, Kingston and Griggstown, the new Town Topics building sits on what used to be known as the King’s Highway. Following the route of a once-narrow trail formed by Lenni Lenape traveling between the Delaware and Raritan rivers, the road linked New York City and Philadelphia. In 1913, it became part of the Lincoln Highway, the coast-to-coast road that was the result of a national effort to encourage automobile traffic. An interesting history by Ms. Muser of the Kingston area is available online: www.kingstongreenways.org/history.html.

Remodeled by owners Carlo and Raoul Momo in 2009, the building has 4,248 square feet of space on three floors with a basement. It retains its vintage appeal through custom mahogany doors, covered porches, and pine flooring.

“It is fabulous to have Town Topics here in Kingston where we opened our Eno Terra restaurant in 2008 as a companion to our Princeton restaurants; we feel that the histories of Kingston and Princeton are entwined. In fact if you consider that the king is traditionally more important than the prince, what does that tell you about Kingston?” said Raoul Momo.

The Momos are something of champions for the village of Kingston. If Raoul Momo had his way it would be annexed and joined to the municipality of Princeton. “The history of this place is amazing,” he enthused Tuesday while stopping by to welcome the new tenants, “but the bureaucratic hurdles are complex — Kingston comes under four municipalities: South Brunswick, Plainsboro, Franklin Township, and Princeton and it straddles three counties: Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset.”

As entrepreneurs, the Momo brothers faced numerous hurdles when they acquired Kingston’s former Wine Press building. Because there was insufficient parking to serve the anticipated needs of employees, they were required to buy the Union Line Hotel property at 4438 Route 27, which had ample parking in the rear.

Access to parking is now one of the aspects of the move to the new location most appreciated by Town Topics staffers. “It’s a relief to be able to throw away our complicated shared parking roster now that we have parking for everyone and for visitors too,” said Operations Manager Melissa Bilyeu, who has been with the company for more than a decade.

“The new building is filled with light from morning until we leave at night; it has so much more storage too,” said Ms. Bilyeu who coordinated the move from Witherspoon Street. “It was a challenge to get it all done smoothly but we did it and this new space will allow everyone to work at full capacity, and this location offers easy access to Princeton and to Route 1.”

The entire advertising department is located on the first floor in a large open-plan light-filled space with buttermilk yellow walls, masses of windows, a brick fireplace, and wide passageways. “It’s more our style,” said Advertising Director Robin Broomer, who has been with the company for 12 years.

“This space has a wonderful atmosphere and it’s so much easier to communicate with one another,” said newcomer Cybill Tascarella.

Kendra Russell, however, who’s been on the staff for a year and a half, is miffed that she can no longer cycle to work. “It’s not such a safe ride along route 27 but it’s worth it for the space.”

Jennifer Covill agreed. “This improved space is a reminder of how far we have come as Witherspoon Media Group. In the six years that I’ve worked here, we’ve evolved and that will continue here,” she said.

One other task the new tenants had was to have the building wired to meet the needs of a media company. That has pleased Steve Marks, who has been with the company for 12 years. As well as working in the composing room, he’s the go-to IT guy, so it’s no surprise that he thinks the most significant change at the newspaper in recent years is the addition of magazines and the newspaper’s online presence.

The best part of the move from Art Director Jeff Tryon’s point of view is having the writers and the production staff in adjoining rooms. “That’s good for productivity and once we get some carpeting to go under our chairs we’ll be able to stop rolling into the middle of the room,” he laughed. “One of the quirks of being in a historic building is that the floors are not exactly level,” said Mr. Tryon, who has been with Town Topics since 2010 and works on both magazines as well.

After 25 years with Town Topics, Julie Gonzalez-Lavin is one of the few staffers who remember the newspaper at the beginning of its transformation into the digital age. “I came in when Town Topics had just acquired its first computer and I recall the infamous ‘wing mailer,’” a mid-1940s labeling machine that was still in operation when Ms. Smith first joined the paper. “I got tennis elbow using that machine and it was a relief to my arm when the printer took on the task,” Ms. Smith recalled.

“It’s nice to be back in a building that has a rich history, and perhaps even a ghost or two; who knows; perhaps we’ll find out,” said Ms. Gonzalez-Lavin, referring to the legend that 4 Mercer Street is haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Priest, wife of the owner of Priest’s Pharmacy.

“Princeton is an incredible place, Town Topics’s readers are interested in issues that go well beyond municipal boundaries. Town Topics reaches many parts of the greater Princeton area. All of that will continue in our new location,” said Ms. Smith, adding that she will miss some aspects of the old location, such as “hearing and seeing the kids coming and going at Community Park School and witnessing the changes that are to come along the Witherspoon Street corridor.”

Distributed free to every household in Princeton, and to parts of Hopewell, West Windsor, Lawrence, Pennington, Skillman, and South Brunswick, Town Topics will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2016.

The newspaper will have a table at this year’s Communiversity on Sunday, April 26, from 1 to 6 p.m. and the staff invites readers to stop by and say hello. The same goes for the new building.

At a meeting of Princeton’s Board of Health on April 21, the public will have an opportunity to comment on an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine delivery products to anyone under the age of 21. Introduced and unanimously approved by the Board last month, the ordinance is focused on cigarettes and e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes), other smoking devices and forms of tobacco.

The ordinance would be enforced by the town’s Department of Health. Any retailer caught selling the products to those under 21 would be charged $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second, and $1,000 or more for subsequent violations.

“Princeton has always been at the forefront of prevention, especially when it comes to smoking and public health,” said Jeffrey Grosser, the town’s Health Officer. “This is one of those things that has so many benefits based upon how many people it will protect moving forward.”

Mr. Grosser cited a recent study by the Institute of Medicine that said extending the age to 21 would result in 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer for anyone born between the years 2000 and 2019. Teens aged 17 to 19 are particularly vulnerable when it comes to getting addicted to tobacco and nicotine products.

“We’ve noticed that 19 is really not good enough,” he said. “Eighty-five to 90 percent of people that become addicted are between 19 and 21. You do have a different sense of judgment when you hit 21. It’s a little different from 19.”

It would take several years to realize the public health benefits of raising the age, but they would be significant, according to the study. It estimates that between now and 2100, the effects of secondhand smoke on children would be lessened, and 286,000 fewer babies would be born prematurely.

E-cigarettes use a battery-powered vaporizer of nicotine and other liquids and flavorings (though some do not use nicotine). They were introduced in the United States in 2007. “The health effects of e-cigarettes are not clear, especially in terms of what the long-term ramifications are,” said Mr. Grosser. “People see it as a safe alternative, but we don’t necessarily know that it’s safe. And it can be a gateway into tobacco products.”

The state age requirement for buying tobacco products is currently 19. But individual towns can adopt their own ordinances. Princeton would be the fifth municipality in New Jersey to raise the minimum age to 21. Englewood was the first. New York City raised the age to 21 in 2013. A bill pending in the legislature would make New Jersey the first state to increase the legal age to 21.

Princeton was the first town in Mercer County to ban smoking on town property in March 2013. This includes municipal buildings, the community pools, parks, and recreation areas.

The Board of Health meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the East Conference Room of Monument Hall on Tuesday, April 21. The law, if adopted, would be put into effect 20 days later. “We’ve seen very good studies on the benefit of this to the community,” said Mr. Grosser. “The Board has been proactive on this, which is really good. I’m excited about it.”

The personal working library of famed deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) arrived at Princeton University’s Firestone Library just three weeks ago and scholarly blogs and social media sites are already buzzing with the news.

One Columbia University professor has called it “an inestimable treasure; working materials from the most important philosopher of reading of our times.”

“And all of that is before we’ve even finished bringing all the books out of their international shipping crates,” said librarian David Magier, who works in collection development. The collection is still being unpacked from giant wooden crates shipped air freight from Paris.

Researchers believe that access to central works in the Derrida collection will allow scholars and students to examine the development of the philosopher’s thinking in new ways. While Mr. Derrida’s papers are archived at the University of California, Irvine, the 13,800 collection of published books and other materials brought to Princeton will reveal what Derrida was reading.

And since Mr. Derrida actively engaged with the texts he read and covered pages with notes and cross-references, it is hoped that this material will reveal much about its owner. As Derrida himself said in an interview later in his life, his books bear “traces of the violence of pencil strokes, exclamation points, arrows, and underlining.”

“Reading marginal notes, we stand at the scholar’s shoulder and listen in on the discussion between scholar and author, as it takes place,” said Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History. “It is wonderful, in an ironic way that would have appealed to no one more than Jacques Derrida, that scholars and students will be able to reconstruct his part in this great humanistic tradition in Firestone Library.”

“Derrida developed his own thought through a meticulous engagement with other thinkers, past and present, thinkers who at once constitute the Western traditions of philosophy and literature and defy them (indeed they constitute them in part because they defied them),” said Hal Foster, the University’s Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of Art and Archaeology, and co-director, Program in Media and Modernity. “What a boon it is for us at Princeton to have his notes on these thinkers and writers, to see the master of textuality perform, as it were, on other master texts.”

Known as the founder of “deconstruction,” an investigative technique that finds inherent contradictions in a subject as part of an analysis of meaning, in political institutions as well as texts, the famously controversial Algerian-born French philosopher is considered one of the most influential thinkers, writers, and critics in the fields of literary criticism, philosophy, art and architecture, linguistics, and political theory, among others.

According to Mr. Magier, the library acquisition is something of a coup. It belonged to Mr. Derrida’s widow Marquerite, who had kept his study and his vast collection wonderfully intact since his death. “A number of scholars eager to get this collection preserved and to make it broadly accessible for academic research approached us in the library and urged us to explore the possibility of acquiring the collection,” he said.

University representatives visited the Derrida home outside of Paris to examine the collection. “While there were many logistical complexities, the outcome in terms of the benefit for scholars everywhere is definitely worth it,” said Mr. Mangier.

The acquisitions process took more than a year of discussions and complex arrangements coordinated by the Collection Development Department. But now that the library is here, it is being unpacked, sorted, described, organized, preserved, and housed as speedily as possible so as to be available through Firestone Library’s department of rare books and special collections. With that, scholars will be able to “deconstruct” the philosopher’s own reading habits.

“Derrida’s working library fits perfectly with current interdisciplinary campus interest in understanding how an individual person’s library, particularly when it is significantly annotated as Derrida’s is, can be ‘unpacked’ and analyzed to track the development of his or her thinking as well as the role of reading and its connection to writing,” said Mr. Magier.


Town Topics staff take time out from unpacking boxes and setting up their desks in the new space that the newspaper is renting in Kingston. Pictured from left, back row: Monica Sankey, Cybill Tascarella, Jennifer Covill, Matt DiFalco, Steve Marks, Jeff Tryon, Linda Arntzenius, Julie Gonzalez-Lavin, Stuart Mitchner, Bill Alden, Anne Levin, Samantha Eng; front row: Kendra Russell, Sarah Gilbert, Gina Hookey, Lynn Adams Smith, Melissa Bilyeu, Robin Broomer, Taylor Smith. Not pictured: J. Robert Hillier; contributing editors Jean Stratton, Kam Williams, Donald Gilpin, Nancy Plum; and photographers Charles Plohn, Emily Reeves, and Frank Wojciechowski. (Photo by Charles Plohn)

April 2, 2015

A woman who had overdosed on heroin was administered nasal Narcan Thursday morning by Princeton Police. Patrol Sergeant Geoff Maurer and Patrolman Lucas Schwab revived the 22-year-old woman, who was on a public bench in the 100 block of Nassau Street, according to information from the police department.

The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad and paramedics responded to the scene and transported the woman to the University Medical Center at Plainsboro.

Police now carry Narcan in every patrol vehicle. This is the first time the Princeton officers have used Narcan. Kits were made available to the department by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. New Jersey law forbids the prosecution of people seeking help for themselves or another individual because of an overdose.

Princeton University’s class of 2019 is shaping up to include some 1,310 students. The University announced this week that it has offered admission to 1,908, or 6.99 percent of the 27,290 applicants. That compares to last year’s admission rate of 7.28, making this year’s process the most selective to date.

Letters have been mailed to students in the regular-decision applicant pool, and applicants are now able to see their decisions through the secure online access. Of the 1,908 selected, 767 applied through single-choice early action and were offered admission in December, according to the University.

Approximately 60 percent of all undergraduates receive financial aid, and the average grant is more than $40,000 a year. Typically, students from families with incomes below $60,000 pay no tuition, room or board. Those from families with incomes below $140,000 pay no tuition. Because no student is required to take out loans, the aid program makes it possible for students to graduate without debts.

Students offered admission to the class of 2019 come from 49 states with the largest representation from New Jersey, California, New York, Massachusetts and Texas; and 66 countries. Forty-eight percent are women and 52 percent are men; 49 percent have self-identified as people of color, including biracial and multiracial students.

Admitted candidates have until May 1 to accept Princeton’s offer of admission.

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It’s true, no April Fool’s fantasy, Witherspoon Media Group, which includes Town Topics Newspaper, Princeton Magazine, and Urban Agenda New York City is moving April 1 to a new home base in the historic Union Line building at 4438 Route 27 in Kingston, NJ.